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Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 1st, 2020

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Dr. Cody Henriksen about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Sioux Falls, SD office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

What is a water pick and do I need one?

June 24th, 2020

Water picks, sometimes called “oral irrigators,” make an excellent addition to your regular home care regimen of brushing and flossing. Especially helpful to those who suffer from periodontal disease and those patients of ours undergoing orthodontic treatment with full-bracketed braces, water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to dislodge food scraps, bacteria, and other debris nestled in the crevices of your mouth. Children undergoing orthodontic treatment may find using a water pick is beneficial if their toothbrush bristles tend to get caught on their wires or brackets.

When you use a water pick, you’re not only dislodging any particles or debris and bacteria you might have missed when brushing, you are also gently massaging the gums, which helps promote blood flow in the gums and keeps them healthy. While water picks are an excellent addition to your daily fight against gingivitis and other periodontal diseases, they are incapable of fully removing plaque, which is why Dr. Cody Henriksen and our team at Dental Comfort Center want to remind you to keep brushing and flossing every day.

If you have sensitive teeth or gums and find it uncomfortable to floss daily, water picks are a good alternative to reduce discomfort while effectively cleaning between teeth. Diabetics sometimes prefer water picks to flossing because they don't cause bleeding of the gums, which can be a problem with floss. If you have a permanent bridge, crowns, or other dental restoration, you may find that a water pick helps you keep the area around the restorations clean.

So how do you choose the right water pick?

Water picks are available for home or portable use. The home versions tend to be larger and use standard electrical outlets, while portable models use batteries. Aside from the size difference, they work in the same manner, both using pulsating water streams. A more crucial difference between water picks is the ability to adjust the pressure. Most home models will let you choose from several pressure settings, depending on how sensitive your teeth and gums are. Most portable models have only one pressure setting. If you want to use mouthwash or a dental rinse in your water pick, check the label first; some models suggest using water only.

Please give us a call at our Sioux Falls, SD office if you have any questions about water picks, or ask Dr. Cody Henriksen during your next visit!

Playing “Tooth or Dare”

June 17th, 2020

Our teeth perform several vital roles for us. We use them to bite and chew, to help form words, to support our facial structure. And never underestimate the power of a smile!

But once you try to expand that job description, you are asking for trouble. Using your teeth for tasks they were not designed for is a game no one wins. What are some of the worst moves you can make? Putting your teeth into play as:

  • Ice Crushers

Crunching hard objects like teeth and ice cubes together can have one of two results—the ice will give, or your tooth will. If your tooth is the loser, you can expect cracks, fractures, worn enamel, and even dislodged crowns and fillings. If you’re tempted to chew on the ice in your drinks, try asking for a straw or using slushy ice instead. (The craving for ice can also be a symptom of other medical conditions—check with your doctor for more on that subject.)

  • Bottle Openers

If ice vs. teeth is a bad idea, metal vs. teeth must be a really bad idea. Those sharp hard metal caps can be difficult to remove even with a bottle opener. Don’t take a chance on chipped, fractured teeth and lacerated gums to get to that beverage faster/work around a lost opener/impress your friends.

  • Nut Crackers

Just because nuts offer more protein than ice doesn’t make their shells any safer to crack with your teeth. Besides the danger of fractured teeth and eroded enamel, biting on whole nuts can produce sharp splinters of shell that can damage delicate gum tissue. By all means, enjoy nuts—they pack a lot of nutrition in a small package. But buy them already shelled, or invest in a nutcracker.

  • Cutting Tools

Teeth aren’t meant to be scissors or utility knives. Even if you are trying to bite through the top of a relatively soft bag of chips, or a piece of duct tape, or a tag that just won’t come off your new clothes, you are putting pressure on your teeth in ways that they are not meant to handle. Don’t take a chance on chips and fractures.

  • A Helping Hand

Using your teeth to hold the straps of your heavy bag, or the leash of your well-trained pet—what could go wrong? How about an awkward fall? Or a squirrel? Or something that might possibly be a squirrel? Any fall or force that applies violent pressure to your teeth and jaw is a potential for dental disaster.

  • Stress Relief

You might grind your teeth or bite your nails whenever you feel nervous. Please find another form of stress relief! Grinding and clenching the teeth can lead to worn enamel, jaw pain, broken teeth and restorations, and a host of other problems. Biting fingernails is not only hard on your nails, but also introduces bacteria into your mouth and can cause damage to your tooth enamel.

If you grind your teeth at night, ask Dr. Cody Henriksen about a nightguard during your next visit to our Sioux Falls, SD office.

This is real life, and you really don’t want to be playing “Tooth or Dare” with your dental health. Use your teeth for what they were designed for, and you’ll take home the grand prize—a lifetime supply of beautiful, healthy smiles.

DIY Teeth Whitening

June 10th, 2020

We all want our best and brightest smiles, and today there are many options we can explore at home to make those beautiful smiles a reality. Whether it’s healthy habits, a healthy diet, whitening toothpaste, or do-it-yourself home products, we have golden opportunities to achieve whiter teeth.

  • Healthy Habits

Proper brushing is the first step in keeping your teeth stain-free. You should devote at least two minutes twice a day to brushing, being careful to cover the areas between and at the base of teeth, where plaque you miss can form visible tartar. Ask us about the most effective brushing techniques. And please, don’t smoke. Smoking is one of the worst offenders when it comes to discoloring teeth. If you are a smoker, quitting at any point in your life will make a big difference in the whiteness of your smile—and your lasting health!

  • Healthy Eating

We all know red wine, coffee, and tea cause some of our worst enamel stains. Acidic drinks such as sodas and citrus beverages can cause even more problems by eroding tooth enamel, exposing the yellowish dentin underneath. Moderation and rinsing with water can help prevent damage. But we have some dietary allies as well! Crunchy foods like apples, carrots, and celery provide a mild scrubbing effect. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt strengthen enamel. Fruits such as strawberries and pineapples, studies suggest, contain enzymes that are natural stain removers. While no one food takes the place of brushing or cleaning, a healthy diet and a healthy body enhance any smile.

  • Brushing with a Whitening Toothpaste

Toothpastes are available which can remove some surface stains, and which can keep teeth their whitest after a professional whitening. They won’t penetrate the enamel surface or change the natural color of your teeth. If these toothpastes are going to work on discolored tooth surfaces, you will usually see results within a few weeks.

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) Whitening Kits

These products provide a peroxide-based gel that can be applied in a tray or with strips. If you choose a tray application, make sure trays fit properly so sensitive mouth and gum tissue is not irritated. If you decide on strips, always make sure all of the tooth surface is covered to avoid uneven whitening. These kits have more powerful whiteners than toothpastes, and so you might see better results, but tooth and gum sensitivity can be a problem.

While all these whitening methods can be helpful, there are some circumstances when a professional whitening is best. Professional gel whiteners are more powerful, and can help eliminate darker stains that OTC products can’t remove. We can make sure sensitive gum and mouth tissue is protected from bleaching agents. And, if you are on a deadline, we can provide a much faster result. Some conditions, such as deep stains caused by trauma or medication, or darker-colored caps, veneers, and crowns, require more than whitening, and we are happy to present options for those situations.

If you have any questions or concerns about whitening your teeth, please give our Sioux Falls, SD office a call. Whether it’s advice on how to brush or how to quit smoking, discussing the effects of foods and drinks on our teeth, suggesting OTC whitening products, or providing a professional whitening, Dr. Cody Henriksen and our team are happy to help you achieve your best and brightest smile!

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